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Details emerge about French citizen who died in US immigration detention

A US Immigration and Customs Enforcement badge. ICE has identified the French citizen who died in its custody this week.
A US Immigration and Customs Enforcement badge. ICE has identified the French citizen who died in its custody this week. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
2 min

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has provided more details about the French citizen who died in custody this week. According to a French diplomatic source, the French consulate in Los Angeles followed the case while the man was in custody to provide assistance before he was to be deported.

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ICE initially did not identify the detainee, but on Thursday elaborated a statement naming him as French citizen Samuelino Pitchout Mavinga, 40, a native of Angola, who died on Sunday in hospital of a heart attack.

"The services of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs are in contact with the citizen’s family to give them support," the French diplomatic source told RFI.

An autopsy had been ordered to determine the official cause of death.

"We remain in contact with the American authorities to clarify the circumstances which led to the death of our citizen," said the source.

Mavinga arrived in New York on 28 November 2018, under the Visa Waiver Programme, which said he would need to leave the country no later than 27 February 2019, according to ICE.

He was detained by border police at a checkpoint in Texas on 11 November 2019, for overstaying his visa.

Mavinga was transferred into ICE custody the next day, and put into detention at the Otero County Processing Center, in Chaparral, New Mexico, pending deportation.

A month later, on 11 December, he was transferred to the Torrance Country Detention Facility in Estancia, New Mexico.

Mavinga was taken to hospital the next day and found to be suffering from a twisting of the large intestines causing bowel obstruction. He remained under medical care until he died on Sunday 29 December.

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